About Us

The Task Masters are mathematics teacher educators, from institutions of higher education across the US, who began working together through a working group at PME-NA in 2012 on Developing Elementary Teachers’ Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching: Building On What We Know. Our collaboration formed as a subgroup of this working group, focusing on the role of mathematical tasks in content courses for prospective elementary teachers. The  goals of our work include studying research on the development of mathematical tasks for students and teachers and using this knowledge to create high-level tasks for our courses for prospective and practicing elementary teachers.

We have developed a guiding framework for modifying tasks from elementary mathematics curricula to create authentic and cognitively demanding tasks for teachers that encourage mathematical sense making and building connections between mathematical ideas. Our research-based approach supports the creation of learning experiences for teachers that are analogous to those children will encounter and for which teachers cannot rely upon familiar, procedural knowledge. We have applied our framework to modify fifth-grade fraction comparisons tasks for use with prospective elementary teachers and are currently working on tasks to build conceptual understanding of the array/area model of multiplication.

The purpose of this website is to provide a forum to share our work with and receive feedback from other mathematics teacher educators. Feel free to contact us using the contact form on this website or email us at [email protected]. We welcome your thoughts, questions, comments, and suggestions!

The Task Masters

Welder

Rachael M. Welder, Ph.D., is a Research Associate in the Department of Teaching, Learning & Culture at Texas A&M University. She teaches content and methods courses for elementary and middle school teachers. Her research interests include Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching Teachers (MKTT) and developing K-8 teachers’ Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching, with a focus on rational number concepts, operations, and algebra.

Jennifer

Jennifer M. Tobias, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Mathematics at Illinois State University. She teaches content and methods courses for elementary and middle school teachers. Her research interests include developing preservice elementary teachers’ understanding of number concepts and operations, with a particular focus on fractions.

Dana

Dana Olanoff, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Mathematics & Mathematics Education in the Department of Mathematics at Widener University. She teaches mathematics content courses for prospective elementary and middle school teachers. Her research interests include Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching Teachers (MKTT), prospective teachers’ knowledge of fractions, and working with the Task Masters.

Ziv

Ziv Feldman, Ed.D., is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education in the School of Education at Boston University. He teaches content courses for preservice and inservice elementary teachers and methods courses for middle and high school teachers. His research interests include designing mathematical tasks and facilitation materials for instructors of preservice elementary teacher content courses, as well as describing preservice elementary teachers’ understanding of number theory.

Eva

Eva Thanheiser, Ph.D., Eva Thanheiser, is an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education in the Fariborz Maseeh Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Portland State University. She teaches content courses for elementary and middle school teachers as well as courses for PhD students in mathematics education. Her research interests include (1) developing preservice elementary teachers’ MKT with a particular emphasis on the following areas (a) motivation and engagement in the university classroom, (b) number and operation, and (c) connecting the university classroom to the K-12 environment and (2) studying inservice teacher professional development experiences.

Neet Priya Bajwa, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Mathematics at Illinois State University. She teaches content and methods courses for prospective elementary teachers. Her research interests include (1) examining children’s mathematical thinking and (2) deepening prospective teachers’ conceptual understanding and relational thinking, with a focus on number concepts and operations.

Amy

Amy Hillen, Ed.D., is an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at Kennesaw State University. She teaches specialized content courses for elementary teachers with a particular focus on rational numbers and algebra. Her research interests examine the learning of preservice teachers in such courses.

Developing Mathematical Tasks for Teachers